Mauricio Ochoa Urioste: Targeted by INTERPOL
Mauricio Ochoa Urioste is a lawyer who was subject to an INTERPOL Red Notice alert requested by Bolivian authorities. A Bolivian national, Mauricio was granted refugee status by Uruguay in 2011, where he currently resides.
INTERPOL deleted his ‘wanted person’ alert in November 2015 in accordance with the organisation’s new refugee policy, which prohibits Red Notices from targeting internationally recognized refugees.
Mauricio was a Legal Director at YPBF, a Bolivian state-owned oil and gas company, when he began to receive mounting pressure because he repeatedly refused to sign contracts that he considered illegal. He was arrested in December 2008, and released a few days later after he resigned from his job. Over the course of 2009 Mauricio published several articles in the press criticizing Evo Morales, particularly in relation to the Bolivian government’s dealings in the mineral industry.
In September 2009, Mauricio was notified that he was facing charges of corruption in a case involving the adjudication of a contract to build a liquid separation plant. As a consequence of this accusation (which he deemed politically motivated), and various threats received, Mauricio fled Bolivia to eventually seek asylum in Uruguay in early 2010.
It was then that INTERPOL issued a Red Notice upon Bolivia’s request. The alert had a devastating impact on Mauricio’s life; for instance, he was unable to travel to Spain to complete his PhD thesis.
In January 2012 Mauricio was sentenced in absentia to nine years in prison for breach of duties, uneconomical conduct and criminal association.
Mauricio’s lawyer, Michelle Estlund, requested that INTERPOL delete his Red Notice in September 2015, on the grounds of the organization’s new refugee policy. INTERPOL acted promptly, officially removing the alert only two months later, in what seems to be a promising trend in INTERPOL’s commitment to ending politically motivated Red Notices against refugees.